• Los sondeos y la victoria de Cartes


    En los últimos días, han aparecido encuestas un tanto contradictorias sobre la próxima elección presidencial: mientras una daba a Horacio Cartes una ventaja de más de 13 puntos, la otra daba un empate técnico entre él y Efraín Alegre.

    Este tipo de situación no es sorprendente y ocurre en todas la campañas electorales, como fue por ejemplo el caso en la reciente elección estadounidense, en la que sondeos daban resultados a veces muy apartados, inclusive colocando a Mitt Romney como el claro ganador. Con este tipo de encuestas, solo teniendo un número bastante grande de encuestas, se podría reducir el margen de incertidumbre, como lo hizo famosamente el blogger del New York Times Nate Silver, quien, utilizando un modelo estadístico, logró predecir exactamente el resultado de los comicios a nivel país y en los 50 estados norte-americanos.

    Ahora, existe otra manera de estimar el resultado de una elección. Consiste en preguntar a las personas sondeadas quien en su opinión va resultar ganador, ante que preguntarles por quien votarían. La diferencia fundamental resulta del hecho que dicha pregunta lleva la gente a dar una respuesta basada en la información que tiene acerca de la gente que le rodea. Es decir, en cierta forma, actúan como si ellos mismos sondeaban unas decenas de personas cada uno, sus familiares y sus amigos, dando mucho más poder a las predicciones. La consecuencia es que dichas encuestas resultan mucho más precisas.

    Esto es el resultado muy interesante que han desarrollado David M. Rothschild, de Yahoo! Research, y Justin Wolfers, de la universidad del Michigan, en un artículo reciente, llamado “Forecasting Elections: Voter Intentions Versus Expectations” (Prediciendo las elecciones: intenciones de los votantes versus sus expectativas).

    Most pollsters base their election projections off questions of voter intentions, which ask “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” By contrast, we probe the value of questions probing voters’ expectations, which typically ask: “Regardless of who you plan to vote for, who do you think will win the upcoming election?” We demonstrate that polls of voter expectations yield consistently more accurate forecasts than polls of voter intentions. A small-scale structural model reveals that this is because we are polling from a broader information set, and voters respond as if they had polled ten of their friends. This model also provides a rational interpretation for why respondents’ forecasts are correlated with their expectations. We use our structural model to extract accurate election forecasts from non-random samples.

    Esto vuelve los resultados publicados hoy por Ultima Hora mucho más interesantes para los soportes de Horacio Cartes, y mucho más inquietantes para sus adversarios. De hecho, a la pregunta “¿Según su opinión, quién ganará las elecciones del 2013?”, dos encuestas distintas encuentran margenes a favor de Cartes de entre el 15 y el 18%.

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    • Toulouse Workshop on Procurement and Infrastructure


      On Thursday and Friday (14-15 mars 2013), I am organizing this workshop on Procurement and Infrastructure.
      It will gather, over two days, researchers from academia and international organizations working on the topics of infrastructure and procurement, with a focus on the particular issues of developing and emerging countries. The program will include research papers, practitioners’ presentations and PhD sessions.Toulouse, France

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      • Firms Operating under Electricity Constraints in Developing Countries


        Just published in the World Bank Economic Review, my paper with Philippe Alby and Jean-Jacques Dethier, which looks at the impact of failures in electricity supply on the investment behavior and the resulting shape of industrial structure:

        Firms Under Electricity Constraints WBER 2012:
        Many developing countries are unable to provide their industrial sectors with reliable electric power, with the result that many enterprises must contend with an insufficient and unreliable supply of electricity. Because of these constraints, enterprises often opt for self-generation of electricity even though it is widely considered a second-best solution. This paper develops a theoretical model of investment behavior in remedial infrastructure in the presence of physical constraints. It then illustrates the model’s predictions using a large cross-country sample of enterprises from the World Bank Enterprise Survey database. Electricity-intensive sectors in high-outage countries are characterized by a significantly lower share of small firms.

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        • Dire austerity


          A recent blog post by Simon Wren-Lewis, on how current austerity measures are pushing Europe even deeper into recession.

          This is all very crude, but the basic message remains unchanged. Once we correct for the economic cycle, the core of the Eurozone are expected to run surpluses that are sufficient to bring down the level of debt, whereas the US, UK and Japan are planning to run deficits. In normal times, and particularly if we were in boom times, the Eurozone could rightly congratulate itself, and make disdainful remarks about policy elsewhere. During the current period in which the private sector is running an unusually high level of net saving it is completely the wrong policy. As the textbooks tell us, without the will or ability to provide offsetting monetary stimulus, this level of austerity will cause a recession, and sure enough it has.

          I guess the ruling elite in the Eurozone are telling themselves that the current recession is all a result of the 2010 crisis caused by profligate governments in the periphery, and that if everyone pulls together by cutting spending and raising taxes things will come good. That has been the story for the past two years, and we are still waiting. Those who opposed this policy said that the market crisis could only be solved by ECB action, and that has turned out to be the case. We also said austerity of this kind would kill any recovery, and on that we were also right. So with macroeconomic theory, plenty of empirical evidence and recent events on our side, there is just no contest in terms of which narrative is correct.

          Foud for thought at a time when the French government prepares even more austerity measures (see Le Monde today):

          “On est à l’os”, entend-on de tous côtés. “Ce n’est pas le train de vie de l’Etat auquel on touche désormais, c’est aux moyens d’assurer les missions de service public.”













          Graffiti in Norwich, England, in July. [Photo by Gerry Balding]

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